Quick Guide: Ocean Vs River Cruising

Posted November 24th, 2016

With passionate fans in both camps, you’re sure to be inundated with opinions, suggestions and tips when it comes to making the ultimate decision: ocean cruise or river cruise? If you’ve never experienced both of these styles of travel, it’s important to recognise their differences and why they have both their admirers and detractors.

The Highs

Ocean cruises have been delighting passengers for decades upon decades. Here are some of the reasons why cruisers keep coming back for more:

  • A variety of amenities and activities to make your days at sea just as enjoyable as your days in port. You could spend the morning rock climbing, take a whirl around the ice skating rink after lunch, enjoy a soothing massage and then watch the sun set as you play a round of mini golf.

  • A world of choice – because ocean cruising has been around for years, there is a huge range of cruise lines, ships and itineraries to choose from.

  • Exciting entertainment – ocean cruise ships really are like floating resorts and each and every night, you’ll be treated to an array of dance, music and comedy performances. Or you could just have a quiet night at the cinema on board.

  • Breath-taking ocean views – any cruiser who has watched the sun rise or set on the top deck while at sea will know how magical this experience is. When your holiday is all about getting away from the stress of life, there’s also nothing like sitting in the fresh salty air and seeing only an expanse of water all around you.

The river cruise market is rapidly growing, and it’s not hard to see why:

  • With smaller vessels, a river cruise can transport you into the heart of a city or town. You’ll enjoy more authentic experiences and spend less time embarking and disembarking, or getting transfers to hotspots.

  • Smaller communal areas create an intimate atmosphere, allowing you to get to know your crew and fellow guests on a deeper level. You’ll also receive more personalised service.

  • The scenery on board a river cruise is constantly changing, providing you with spectacular views of quaint villages, rolling hills, majestic mountains and more.

  • An emphasis on destinations – river cruises are designed to provide you with a more immersive experience, so most, if not all, of your days will be spent exploring ports.

The Destinations

With the ability to cross the world, ocean cruise itineraries can be vast and impressive. At the start of your cruise, you could be docking in Helsinki, Finland and by the end, you could find yourself in Lisbon, Portugal. For the biggest names and capitals, ocean cruising certainly won’t disappoint.

River cruising, meanwhile, has a focus on unearthing the delights of particular regions. While many waterways cross several countries and borders, the variety of destinations on your itinerary won’t be quite as large. However, you’ll likely return as a mini expert on the culture, history and traditions of particular cities or areas.

The Who’s Who

You may find yourself a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of operators in the ocean cruise market. Well known cruise lines include Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises.

Although a rapidly growing area in the cruise industry, many river cruise lines have a wealth of experience. Some of the biggest names in the sector include APT Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Viking River Cruises, Scenic and Uniworld.  

There’s a lot to be said about ocean and river cruises! Ultimately, though, which style of cruise is best for you depends on what you want to get out of your holiday. For further information or advice, contact our experienced cruise consultants on 1300 954 661


Set sail on a dream holiday with Cruiseabout


Cruise Specialist

  Absolutely nobody in Australia knows more about cruising than Cruiseabout. With close to 30,000 nights on ships all across the globe, our consultants’ extensive experience and passion for cruising is unequaled. We're here to share the joys of cruising holidays with more Australians and invite them into our world - because we love cruising!

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